Friday Q&A: Splitting iTunes Libraries

Q.  I would like to save space on my eMac by running iTunes on an external hard drive. I think I read an article on moving iTunes onto an external HD in MacFormat but I can’t locate it. I have partitioned the Iomega eGo and am using half as a backup with SuperDuper!. The other half I intend to keep for occasionally used items and iTunes, which will have different music genres from that on my iMac.
Ian Jamieson

A.  If you untick the box marked Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library in iTunes > Preferences > Advanced, then you can keep your music files in different places, even though they’re still organised into the same virtual library. You can drag individual artists, albums or songs onto your external disk from /Music/iTunes/iTunes Music and delete them from your internal disk. When your add these back into iTunes with File > Add to Library, the files themselves will stay on the external disk but the library database will be updated to reflect the new location.

Another way to do this is by keeping completely separate libraries. You can create a new library in iTunes, the same way you can in iPhoto, by holding down å when you start the app. This will prompt you to create a new library or choose an existing one. If you keep one library on your internal disk and one on the external disk, you can switch between them when you start iTunes. Which method suits you best will depend on whether you’re just moving some genres off the internal disk because you don’t listen to them much and want to save space, or whether you genuinely want to create two separate music libraries – for different members of the family, for instance.

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This question originally appeared in issue 231 of MacFormat, the UK’s best selling Apple magazine.

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